Reading, Mar 2018
Few escape games open with an explanation of one of the more obscure parts of English history, but Rebellion does and pulls it off smoothly. As the intro succinctly explains, you’re travelling back to the 12th century to retrieve the royal crown for Matilda, daughter of Henry I, from her usurper cousin Stephen of Blois.
The game’s medieval setting would work perfectly well without being based on a specific period of history, but I enjoyed the impression that the designers knew their stuff, that they hadn’t just taken a generic knights-in-armour theme but had taken care to make reference to actual historical figures from the time.
If that gave the game a slightly more intellectual feeling, that came through in the puzzle style as well, particularly with a large section that had a logical deduction task as the overarching meta-puzzle. But at the same time, its puzzles were implemented using lots of satisfyingly solid, chunky wooden components.
Appropriately for the setting, it’s a zero tech design, in the sense of not having any maglocks or hidden electronics. It might be more accurate though to describe it as using medieval tech. It has bits that that open and move and change, it’s just all built with physical mechanisms not electronics.
A little attention to detail goes a long way, and there was evidence of plenty here. One small detail I noticed and appreciated was a puzzle that used involved different thin strips of material. Most games would have made each a different colour and called it a day; here they’d used a variety of different materials that not only looked more authentically suitable but also differed in width, thickness and texture as well as shade. Also worth highlighting was a particularly satisfying puzzle involving precise positioning of a couple of items – I’d had an idea how it might work but it was no less satisfying when it came together.
The game shows quality and care throughout, with attractive visuals and a good mix of well-designed puzzles. There are larger and more ambitious games out there, but Rebellion impresses for being consistently good in its implementation – it’s hard to imagine a group not enjoying it.